France knights Lizaso, Cuanang for contributions to the arts

The French government has recently knighted former National Commission for Culture and the Arts chairman Arsenio Lizaso and Pintô Art Museum owner Dr. Joven Cuanang to the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters of France) with the rank of chevalier for their contributions to the promotions of and advancing the arts and culture.

Lizaso was recognized for his efforts through various programs, shows and exhibitions he undertook as head of the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Dr. Joven Cuanang with French Ambassador Marie Fontanel.(Photographs courtesy of the French Embassy in the Philippines and Micronesia)

According to the French Embassy, Lizaso “supported the collaboration between French and Filipino artists particularly in theater and music, making available the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra for performances of French répertoire together with guest conductor, Michael Cousteau.”

On the other hand, Cuanang was bestowed the award for his capacity as a private citizen to put up a museum and help in the promotion of visual art in the country.

The French Order of Arts and Letters was established by the government of France in 1957 to recognize individuals worldwide who have greatly contributed to the promotion of the arts. Its origin is said to be the Order of Saint Michael established in 1469.

Last year, the Japanese government knighted five individuals in the Philippines for their contribution to Japan-Philippine relations which, in history, date back to the Philippine precolonial period.

In separate ceremonies at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence in Makati, knighted are former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, former Finance Secretary and former Philippine chair of the Japan-Philippines High-level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation Carlos Dominguez III, former Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, former Philippine Judo Federation, Inc. president David Carter and Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center Manila Office legal counsel Josue Sim Zuniega.

They are among 119 foreign nationals, 33 of whom are women who were given the 2022 Autumn Conferment of Japanese Decorations or the Order of the Rising Sun established by Emperor Meiji in 1875.

Del Rosario was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun as he contributed “to [the] strengthening [of] bilateral relations and promoting friendly relations between Japan and the Philippines” while Dominguez III was given the same for his contribution to the “strengthening [of] the economic relations and promoting friendship between two countries.”

Tugade was given the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for his contribution “to [the] strengthening [of] bilateral relations between Japan and the Philippines in the field of transportation and economic cooperation.”

Carter, meanwhile, was given “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays” for “promoting judo in the Philippines and friendship between Japan and the Philippines” while Zuniega received “The Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays” for “contributing to the improvement of the welfare of Japanese community in the Philippines.”

The Grand Cordon is the topmost class of the award, given for example, to individuals in the Executive office or heads of the branches of government who made outstanding achievements in the relations of Japan and a foreign country.

In the Philippines, a past awardee is former Prime Minister Cesar Virata who was conferred that award in 2016.

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, the principal grade which corresponds to second class is normally given to individuals with ministerial positions, those who sub-heads a branch of a government, or important personalities, who again, made outstanding achievements in the relations of Japan and a foreign country.

Former Senator Leila de Lima and businessman Washington SyCip were conferred this award in 2006 and 2017, respectively.

Meanwhile, the last two classes of the six-class award are the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays and the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays which are given to individuals who have greatly helped in the advancement of the relations between Japan and a foreign country.

Carter and Zuniega are the latest from the Philippines to be given these distinctions.

A Japanese, Michiko Sakai, was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays for continuously helping children of Japanese descent through education in Mindanao.